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Tokyo Culture Trip: Top 10 Most Popular Shrines in Tokyo and Surroundings (August 2019 Ranking)

Tokyo Culture Trip: Top 10 Most Popular Shrines in Tokyo and Surroundings (August 2019 Ranking)

Date published: 9 September 2019
Last updated: 10 September 2019

Here are the best Shrines in Tokyo and Surroundings, with travel tips and more, according to LIVE JAPAN, a top-class travel website for visitors to Japan. Our ranking is based on the most popular pages viewed by foreign visitors in a given category.

For instance, Nezu Shrine, Hie Shrine, Tomioka Hachiman Shrine and other related spots will be listed. Be sure to check them out during your visit to Tokyo and Surroundings!

1. Nezu Shrine

1. Nezu Shrine

The ”Nezu Shrine” was built in Gongen-zukuri in 1706. All the buildings from the main hall to the hall of offerings, the hall of worship, the Karamon (a type of gate seen in Japanese architecture), the Nishi-mon (west gate), the Sukibei (lattice-windowed wall) and the two-storied gate still exist today, and they have been designated as National Important Cultural Property. Its history traces back 1900 years ago, when the shrine was (allegedly) established by Yamato Takeru where Sendagi exists now. During the Bunmei era (1469 - 1486) the main building of the shrine was established by Ota Dokan (1432 - 1486) and during the Edo period (1600/1603 - 1868) Tokugawa Tsunayoshi (1646 - 1709) - the fifth shogun - established the main building of the current shrine which he then relocated from Sendagi where the old shrine existed to its current location, also in Sendagi. Also, on the premises is a 6,600 square-meter azalea garden where about 3,000 azaleas of 100 different types bloom in Late Apli (depending on the climate of the year). During this period, street stalls such as Amazake-chaya (traditional Japanese teahouse famous for its Amazake: a traditional Japanese (alcoholic and non-alcoholic available) drink made from fermented rice) and Ueki-ichi (flower market) are lined up at the premises.

2. Hie Shrine

2. Hie Shrine

Hie Shrine is a prestigious shrine which had received offerings to the god from the imperial family since the Meiji era. The shrine has over 600-years of history and people fondly call the Shrine Sannou-san. The history of the Shrine goes back to the beginning of the Kamakura era when a man named Edo built a Hie Shrine for the guardian deity of his residence. Then later a samurai warrior in the late Muromachi era, Dokan Ota enshrined the Shrine in the Edo Castle. Monkeys have been considered the messenger of the god in the Shrine and there are statues of a monkey couple at the shrine gate and in front of the Haiden hall. The Shrine has been believed to grant many wishes such as for matchmaking, happy marriage and prosperity of family. The Sanno Festival, held in June, is one of the three biggest Japanese festivals along with the Gion Festival in Kyoto and the Tenjin Festival in Osaka. Hundreds of lanterns dedicated to the god are displayed and people enjoy dancing and singing with the joyful sound of taiko drums in the precincts which are usually quiet places. Various events featuring traditional Japanese music, flower arrangements and other themes are also held here.

3. Tomioka Hachiman Shrine

3. Tomioka Hachiman Shrine

Tomioka Hachimangu Shrine, the largest shrine in Edo, was constructed in 1627 and has been a place of worship ever since. Its 17 small shrines enshrine various gods including the founder of sumo wrestling, the gods of travel and the god of prosperity. Sumo wrestling began back in the Edo period in Kyoto and Osaka. While the sport was banned for some time, it resumed on the grounds of Tomioka Hachimangu Shrine. There are monuments to Yokozuna sumo wrestlers inscribed with their names, hand and foot types. These monuments show us the history of sumo wrestling. Also attracting tourists as well as locals is the Fukagawa Hachiman Festival, featuring an array of 54 different mikoshi shrines and one of the three largest festivals in the Edo area.

4. Ueno Toshogu

4. Ueno Toshogu

Located in Ueno Park, Ueno Toshogu Shrine is a cultural property of significant value. It was built in 1627 as a shinto shrine enshrining Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa shogunate. Later in 1651, the third shogun Iemitsu ordered massive scale reconstruction. Its main hall was richly decorated with gold foils, which eventually gave the nickname of the ”shrine of gold”. In the shrine precinct you can enjoy viewing the essence of the every season such as peonies and cherry blossoms in spring colored leaves in Autumn. Any time of the year the shrine is filled with people who pray for their academic achievement and better luck. The shrine is also a popular tourist attraction for overseas visitors because it is the place to see a genuine Edo/Tokyo style building right in the middle of Tokyo.

  • Ueno Toshogu
    • Address 9-88, Uenokouen, Taitou-ku, Tokyo, 110-0007
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Ueno Station (Hokkaido Shinkansen Line / Tohoku Shinkansen Line / Akita Shinkansen Line / Yamagata Shinkansen Line / Joetsu Shinkansen Line / Hokuriku Shinkansen Line / JR Keihin-Tohoku Line / JR Yamanote Line / JR Tohoku Main Line / JR Utsunomiya Line / JR Takasaki Line / JR Joban Line / JR Ueno Tokyo Line / Tokyo Metro Ginza Line / Tokyo Metro Hibiya Line)
      5 minutes on foot
    • Phone Number 03-3822-3455

5. Hanazono Jinja

5. Hanazono Jinja

A shinto shrine that had been worshiped as the central shrine of Naito Shinjuku even before Tokugawa Ieyasu established the Edo Shogunate, as Shinjuku thrived as a lodging station. It was about 250 meters south of the current location between 1624 and 1644, but moved to a section of the flowering garden of the suburban residence of the Owari feudal lord in Edo, when the name was changed to Hanazono (flower garden) Inari (a fox deity). Geino Asama-jinja Shrine, one of the sub shrines on the premises, is known as the deity of entertainment. This is because the shrine put on shows, theatrical plays, and dances on a stage built on the grounds to finance its reconstruction after fires in 1780 and 1811. The Tori-no-Ichi fair, held on the days of the rooster in November to commemorate the death of Prince Yamato Takeru (a legendary prince) attracts approximately 600,000 people every year visiting to buy kumade rakes for thriving business and to attend the various amusement booths which are the famous spots at the Hanazono-jinja Shrine.

  • Hanazono Jinja
    • Address Shinjuku 5-17-3, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, 160-0022
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Shinjuku-Sanchome Station (Tokyo Metro Marunouchi Line / Tokyo Metro Fukutoshin Line / Toei Shinjuku Line)
    • Phone Number 03-3209-5265

6. Meiji Jingu

6. Meiji Jingu

This is a shrine that worships the Meiji Emperor and his wife, Empress Shoken. This shrine has the most visitors during New Year's holidays. There is a large forest that spreads over 700 thousand square meters in the inner garden of Meiji Shrine that has the main building in the center, and this forest has become an oasis for the citizens of Tokyo. The irises in the iris garden that was planted for Empress Shoken comes into bloom in June, which delights the visitors' eyes. In the outer garden, there is the Seitoku Gallery, and also some sports facilities such as the Shrine Stadium. There is also the Meiji Memorial Hall which is a hall used for weddings and other parties that even talents and celebrities use. There is a kagura (sacred music and dancing performed at shrines) performed during the end of April to the beginning of May in the Spring Festival called the Urayasu-no-Mai. Urayasu-no-Mai is a mikomai (female Shinto dance that the young girls each carry a small baton with bells) that is popular as a way to experience the atmosphere of ancient Japan. There are also various traditional performances such as bugaku (court dance and music) and nohgaku (traditional Japanese play using masks) on the Shinto stage in front of the main building during this period. It is recommended that you visit at least once to experience traditional Japanese culture.

7. Kanda Shrine

7. Kanda Shrine

The establishment of Kanda Myojin dates back to 730, in the current Otemachi of Chiyoda-ku. It was relocated to its current location, omote kimon (northeast) of the Edo Castle, and played an important part as the so-chinju (general Shinto deity of an area) of Edo (present Tokyo). Its formal name is Kanda-jinja (Kanda Shrine), but the name of Kanda Myojin has been more familiar to people to this day. At present, the shrine is the universal tutelary god for the association of 108 towns, including Akihabara, the world famous sightseeing site; Otemachi and Marunouchi, the central business areas; as well as Kanda and Nihonbashi, the central areas in the Edo period. It is crowded with visitors from many companies wishing for the prosperity of the company and their businesses. Taira no Masakado, a rebellion leader of the Heian period (794 to 1185) was designated one of the main gods; he is well known as a god of victory for having subjugated the Kanto region. Also, Daikoku-sama, the god for family happiness and matchmaking, is enshrined, and they are often visited by people. After you visit the beautiful vermilion-lacquered shrine, taking a walk around small shrines located behind Kanda Myojin is recommendable. There are plenty of things to see, such as statues of Daikoku-sama and Ebisu-sama (the god of fishery), the monument of Heiji Zenigata, the main character of a historical novel, and chikara-ishi, a stone that young people in the Edo period used for physical strength competitions.

8. Akasaka Hikawa Shrine

8. Akasaka Hikawa Shrine

This is the shrine where Susanoo-no-mikoto, Kushiinadahime-no-mikoto, and Oonamuji-no-mikoto (three deities from Japanese mythology) are enshrined and believed to give divine favor for a good marriage match. According to an old document, it was originally established in Hitotsugi-ga-hara in Toshima, Bushu (an area overwrapping present-day Saitama and Kanagawa Prefectures and Tokyo), in 951. It was moved to the present location in 1730 by the order of Yoshimune Tokugawa (the 8th shogun). The present shrine house was constructed at that time. An architectural structure called gongen-zukuri is followed, and has the main hall, the heiden offering hall, and the haiden worship hall. Yoshimune was famous for his modest, frugal policy, and the shrine is relatively simple-looking but has a well-devised design, adding black lacquer to the mainly vermilion-lacquered exterior. On the premises are placed five small shrines, including the Shiawase Inari Shrine, named by the prominent figure in the late Edo period, Kaishu Katsu. A fox hall can be found on the premises, and the area has a unique atmosphere. You must see the 25-meter-tall and about 400-year-old great gingko tree.

9. Kawagoehikawa Shrine

9. Kawagoehikawa Shrine

It is said that the Kawagoe Hikawa Shrine was established during the Tumulus period, about 1,500 years ago. Since 1457, when the military commander Dokan Ota constructed the Kawagoe Castle, this shrine has been worshiped as sochinju (a Shinto deity of a locality). The deities, Itsuhashira-no-kamisama, which this shrine is devoted to, are a family, so they were worshiped as the gods for a good marriage match as well as a couple's and family's harmony. People say that you will be blessed with a good match if you pick a small, white stone on the shrine grounds and take good care of it. Thus, those men and women who wish to meet someone special visit there. The current shrine hall has elaborate reliefs. Picture scrolls and ema wooden plaques that have historical value are designated as tangible cultural properties of the Kawagoe city, and many other valuable articles are stored as treasures. Many events are held throughout the year. In the new year's Prayer Ceremony for better fortune, fortune coins that are said to bring good luck for the year are thrown from the shrine hall, and many people join the ceremony to get one. The divine favor of the shrine is for general concerns, a good match, family harmony, good health, profitable business, safe child labor, and the blessing of a child.

10. Asakusa Shrine

10. Asakusa Shrine

The Asakusa Shrine is located to the right of the main hall of Sensoji Temple. It was integrated with Sensoji Temple until the Edo period, but when the Gods and Buddha separation ordinance was promulgated in the Meiji period, it was separated from Sensoji and renamed Asakusa Shrine. It is often called Sanja-sama or Sanja Gongen and is popular among the public. In the seventh century, two fishermen brothers picked up the statue of the Kannon of Sensoji Temple from Sumida River, and a monk consecrated it. The bodies of these three men are worshiped here as Sanja Gongen. The shrine pavilion was built in the same style as the Nikko Toshogu, in the Gongen-Zukuri style of Shinto architecture.The person who built it was Tokugawa Iemitsu, the third shogun of the Tokugawa dynasty. Although it has been 350 years since it was built, It still has relics of what it used to be, as it was spared from fires or earthquakes, and it has been designated as an important cultural property of the country. There was a renovation for repainting, and the bright colors were restored to delight the eyes of visitors. Sanja Matsuri, which is carried out on the third weekend of May for three days, is one of the of the Three Great Festivals of Edo. The festival is well known for the ”soul swing”, where portable shrines are wildly swung around.

  • Asakusa Shrine
    • Address 2-3-1, Asakusa, Taitou-ku, Tokyo, 111-0032
      View Map
    • Nearest Station Asakusa Station (Tokyo Metro Ginza Line / Toei Asakusa Line / Tobu Isesaki Line (Tobu Sky Tree Line) / Tsukuba Express)
      7 minutes on foot
    • Phone Number 03-3844-1575
*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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